Penguins Training Camp: It's new, strange world for Satan
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His instructions were to go across the street, but, when Miroslav Satan emerged from the sports medicine building of the UPMC complex on the South Side, the only thing on the other side of Water Street was water -- the Monongahela River.
So, he turned left. Nope. Just a parking lot. Finally, he got directed to the right, to the workout area of the indoor football facility.
• About 1,000 tickets for each home game will go on sale at 10 a.m. Saturday at www.pittsburghpenguins.com, 412-323-1919, and Ticketmaster locations at the Mellon Arena box office.
At least he got an inkling of how difficult it can be to navigate in his new NHL city.
There's every chance things will go more smoothly when Satan joins the Penguins for the first training camp practices today at Mellon Arena.
"Hopefully, I can fulfill everybody's expectations," Satan said yesterday as the team was finishing up its preseason physicals and medical tests.
Those expectations run fairly high for Satan, who signed a one-year, $3.5 million contract as a free agent over the summer.
For one thing, Satan is penciled in as the replacement for Marian Hossa, who signed with Detroit. That makes him the top candidate to be the new right winger for captain and top-line center Sidney Crosby. Coach Michel Therrien has said Satan will see time on that line.
"I'm looking forward to it," Satan said, but he was at a loss to predict exactly what that will be like.
"I'll be happy to tell you more after [I skate or play with him some], but there's not too many players like him. I don't think I've had the chance to play with a center of that quality."
Crosby, entering his fourth NHL season, has had a parade of linemates. He has found there's no real secret to developing good chemistry with different wingers.
"It's always a matter of playing to your strengths," he said. "When guys are put together, it's for a reason. Usually the way they play complements each other. It's a matter of just playing with one another, getting used to tendencies."
In Hossa, Crosby had a winger who, like him, worked diligently at both ends. Satan is more of a pure scorer.
"He's a shooter. He's a goal-scorer," Crosby said. "There's no secret that he knows where to go. My job doesn't change. I'm usually the one passing, so I have to find him."
Satan, 33, isn't sure his ability -- or at least his willingness -- to backcheck is fully appreciated.
"I played in Buffalo for many years, and I think we had a good defensive [system] in place," he said. "Any system we'll have here, I'll feel it out and do the best I can. I think I showed in the past that I can play both ways and on the [penalty kill] also."
Satan spent the past three seasons with the New York Islanders, where he wasn't surrounded by the skill the Penguins have.
Last season, he scored only 16 goals, to go along with 25 assists for 41 points.
That broke a string of nine NHL seasons in which he had at least 25 goals and 45 points. He has topped 30 goals four times and 60 points six times.
It could be that Satan just had an off year, one made worse by a right knee injury that, while it didn't force him out of the lineup for an extended time, bothered him enough that he had just one goal between late December and late February.
Or perhaps it was a matter of getting caught in the web of a struggling team. The Islanders had a league-low 189 goals last season and finished last in the Atlantic Division.
"Probably a combination of both," Satan said.
"Last year was last year. It wasn't my good year, and I'm looking forward to turning the page and playing with this team. Hopefully, this style here is going to fit me more."
First Published September 17, 2008 12:00 am